I Am Pho
Named after Vietnam’s most well-known export (pre-fabricated buildings aside), this family-run place in the heart of Chinatown looks more cafe than restaurant, but the “simple honest Vietnamese food” dished out is as tasty as it is popular, and as authentic as it is addictive.
Vietnamese people claim pho as their national dish, and the I Am Pho menu gives it “world famous” status. At its essence, it’s a noodle soup. An aromatic broth is made from chicken and beef bones slowly cooked to enhance all the flavours and imbue it with those celebrated health-enhancing, keep-coming-back-for-more properties, then flat noodles and your choice of meats are added (here: raw beef, called pho bo tai, cooked beef, known as pho bo chin, chicken pho ga or pho bo dac biet, which is a combination of all three), along with beansprouts, fresh spring onions and a coriander garnish. A fifth bowl is pho chay, which uses a vegetarian stock and adds in tofu and mushroom. You can also have this with vermicelli rice noodles, called bun hue chay – bun bo hue is beef and pork, bun rieu cua is crabmeat and egg.
Various dry bun dishes are also available, served with a homemade dipping sauce and salad, and com dishes are a rice alternative, so tick the gluten-free box. I Am Pho specials come with boiled rice or noodles, along with pickled carrot and mooli, and include grilled lemongrass-infused chicken thighs, ga nuong xa.
This is a dessert-free place, so don’t forget to check out the starters. You may very well like to try the lemongrass and chilli fried frogs legs or the fermented ham. But definitely worth a look-in are the delicate banh cuon rice rolls and Vietnamese summer rolls, with lots of fillings to choose from.
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